NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

Georgia’s Stacey Abrams is (definitely) not running for President of the United States

One of the biggest sto­ry­lines in Demo­c­ra­t­ic pol­i­tics since the 2018 midterm elec­tions has con­cerned the future ambi­tions of Geor­gia state rep­re­sen­ta­tive and guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date, Stacey Abrams.

Representative Stacey Adams

For­mer Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Stacey Adams, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader in the Geor­gia Gen­er­al Assem­bly, explains what needs to be done to turn states in the Deep South blue (edu­cate, acti­vate, and agi­tate!) at Net­roots Nation 2014.

In 2018, Abrams bare­ly lost the guber­na­to­r­i­al race to Repub­li­can Bri­an Kemp, in a race plagued by ram­pant vot­er sup­pres­sion and dis­cred­it­ed by the fact that – as Georgia’s sit­ting Sec­re­tary of State – Kemp was super­vis­ing the race he him­self was run­ning in. After defeat, Abrams began the orga­ni­za­tion Fair Fight Action, which sued the new gov­er­nor over his han­dling of the elections.

At the begin­ning of this year, influ­en­tial Democ­rats were deter­mined to per­suade Abrams to run in 2020 against Georgia’s Sen­a­tor David Perdue.

These includ­ed pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates (Sen­a­tors Har­ris and Gilli­brand were both report­ed to have encour­aged Abrams to run), Chuck Schumer and oth­ers in the U.S. Senate’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship, and major donors to the Par­ty includ­ing close sup­port­ers of her 2018 campaign.

In May, Abrams brushed aside sug­ges­tions of a Sen­ate run, seem­ing­ly in favor of even big­ger plans; she tweet­ed that a 2020 run for the White House was “def­i­nite­ly on the table,” and reject­ed the sug­ges­tion from the Biden cam­paign of a Vice Pres­i­den­tial posi­tion say­ing, “I don’t think you run for sec­ond place…if I’m going to enter a pri­ma­ry, then I’m going to enter a primary.”

Stacey Abrams in Seattle

Stacey Abrams lis­tens to an audi­ence ques­tion at her April 2019 Seat­tle Town Hall appear­ance (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Pro­gres­sive Institute)

How­ev­er, the spec­u­la­tion has at last been end­ed; Abrams will not be run­ning for high office in 2020. She made the announce­ment on Tues­day in Las Vegas while address­ing the Inter­na­tion­al Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

In the speech, she laid out her plan to expand and re-brand Fair Fight Action into Fair Fight 2020. The ini­tia­tive will expand from Geor­gia to 20 states in the Mid­west and South­east of the coun­try, focus­ing on state-lev­el vot­er pro­tec­tion. This is an issue close to Abrams’ heart; she lost the 2018 elec­tion by under 55,000 votes, which is almost pre­cise­ly the num­ber of new vot­er reg­is­tra­tions that Bri­an Kemp delayed in the run-up to vot­ing in one of many bla­tant acts of vot­er suppression.

Fair Fight 2020 will work with state polit­i­cal par­ties to cor­rect inac­cu­rate vot­er rolls, address short­ages of vot­ing machines and pro­vi­sion­al bal­lots, and stan­dard­ize pro­ce­dures for count­ing absen­tee ballots.

The ini­tia­tive also plans to set up state-by-state hot­lines, so that com­mu­ni­ties can report elec­tion irreg­u­lar­i­ties. The amount of invest­ment the ini­tia­tive is expect­ed to put into these efforts could be as high as $5 million.

While her deci­sion will see her increas­ing­ly lose the spot­light as the 2020 pres­i­den­tial pri­maries and gen­er­al elec­tions inevitably swal­low up nation­al news cov­er­age, Abrams’ choice may indi­cate her real goal – a re-match with Bri­an Kemp for the Governor’s Man­sion in 2022.

An orga­ni­za­tion like Fair Fight 2020 will keep Abrams in the spot­light reg­u­lar­ly, give her a large pool of polit­i­cal experts to recruit from for future cam­paigns and, most impor­tant­ly, will hope­ful­ly break down some of the egre­gious state laws that sup­pressed the vote in black and Demo­c­ra­t­ic neigh­bor­hoods in 2018.

If Stacey Abrams is play­ing the long game and aim­ing at 2022, it will be much hard­er for Bri­an Kemp to rob her of her prize a sec­ond time.

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